The College of Arts and Sciences offers a graduate major in Biology that prepares students as professional biologists who will be prepared either to enter the job market in biotechnology, management and policy or ecology; or to continue education in the health professions or further graduate school. All students share core courses that train them in the practice of graduate-level scholarship and in the design and analysis of research; and shared selective courses emphasize applied principles and methods in fields such as toxicology, biochemistry, GIS and biotechnology.
In accordance with their interests and career plans, and in consultation with an academic advisor, students may choose one of three directed topics-Biotechnology, Management and Policy, or Ecology-each of which entails several specific required courses. Students then may further tailor their degree coursework by choosing selective courses in topics ranging from native landscaping, zoology and botany to conservation genetics and bioinformatics. Each student will complete a graduate capstone experience in accordance with the directed topic and in consultation with her/his advisor. The capstone experience may be independent research culminating in a graduate project or thesis, a professional internship or a meta-analysis project.
Graduates may obtain employment in biological and related fields or pursue advanced degrees. A number of graduates work as biologists, natural resource managers or laboratory scientists at corporations or at county, state, and national parks. Other employment opportunities include work in environmental consulting, habitat assessment or science policy. The curriculum also serves certified secondary school biology teachers who wish to develop an ecological or biotechnology focus.
Faculty research interests range widely and include topics such as microbial ecology, forest and prairie ecology, ecological restoration, rodent population dynamics, conservation genetics, development of targeted drug therapies, environmental toxicology and comparative physiology, plant physiology, ecosystem ecology, environmental policy, and curriculum development in biology education.
In addition to meeting university admissions criteria, applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree with a G.P.A. of 3.0 or higher and maintained a G.P.A. of 3.0 or higher for any graduate work attempted.
Applicants for the Biology M.S. program must complete the following course work with a grade of “C” or better in each course: eight hours of general biology with lab, eight hours of general chemistry with lab, three hours of statistical methods (STAT4219/6219), and four hours each of organic chemistry with lab, ecology with lab, microbiology with lab, and either animal or plant physiology with lab. Additional coursework in chemistry may be recommended in consultation with the graduate academic advisor.
A student may be provisionally admitted to the program in either concentration pending completion of required courses or the re-taking of courses for which the original grade was less than “C.” Students are expected to be proficient in a Windows environment with file management, word processing, spreadsheet, graphing, and Internet skills. Otherwise CPSC2005 or equivalent will be required with a grade of “C” or better.
As part of this degree program, students must choose among a research thesis or project option, a professional internship or a meta-analysis project as a capstone experience.
In the thesis option, students develop a thesis proposal usually related to a faculty member’s research, carry out a formal research study under the supervision of the faculty member and a degree committee, prepare a final manuscript that includes a thorough literature review chapter followed by a traditional manuscript chapter suitable for publication consideration, and make a formal research presentation. The thesis option would be appropriate for students who have focused research interests or who intend to pursue doctoral study.
In the project option, students develop a master’s project proposal, complete the project in conjunction with a faculty member, and prepare a final technical report, and make a formal research presentation.
The capstone internship is supervised work with a public land management or regulatory agency, a private consulting firm or biotech company.
In the meta-analysis project option, students identify a project related to one or more courses of the master’s degree, conduct an in-depth current literature search, conduct a hypothesis-driven meta-analysis, and prepare a final report with discussions including their own conclusions on future developments; students also make a formal presentation of their meta-analysis project. The minimum time for the meta-analysis project is two terms.
Admission to Candidacy
After admission as a degree-seeking student, a student also must be admitted to candidacy. To qualify for degree candidacy, an Environmental Biology student must accomplish the following within three years of admission to the program:
- Required Preparation: Complete the required preparation course work listed above with a grade of “C” or better in each course.
- Degree Plan: Meet during the first term of enrollment with the program academic advisor and faculty to complete a degree plan for the student’s course of study in Environmental Biology. The degree plan must be approved by at least three faculty, the program academic advisor, and the chair of the Science Division.
- Research, Capstone Internship or Meta-Analysis Project Proposal: Identify a major advisor from among the full-time Biology or Chemistry faculty and prepare a formal research or capstone internship proposal. This proposal should be a comprehensive statement of the student’s intended thesis/project research or capstone internship project, and must be approved by a committee of the major advisor and a minimum of two other faculty. Approved research or capstone internship proposals must be filed with the program academic advisor at least one year before the student’s expected date of graduation. Approved meta-analysis project proposals must be filed with the program academic advisor at least two academic terms before the student’s expected date of graduation.
- Grade Point Average: Maintain a G.P.A. of 3.0 or better to sustain candidacy.
More detailed candidacy information is available through the division office or from the student’s advisor.
Students must meet all university requirements for a master’s degree.
Required Core Courses (10 Hours)
Required Directed Courses (6-10 Hours)
Select one of the following directed topics:
Environmental Management and Policy
Capstone Experience Options (3 - 7 Hours)
Select one of the following options:
Meta-Analysis Project Option
Professional Internship Option
Total Credit Hours with Research Thesis Capstone: 32 Hours
Total Credit Hours with Research Project Capstone: 35 Hours
Total Credit Hours with Meta-Analysis Project Capstone: 35 Hours
Total Credit Hours with Professional Internship Capstone: 35 Hours